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‘Flying squad’ home care

New models of care will save hospitals money but will also benefit the elderly, says Terry Clout chief executive of the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District.

To save $2.2 billion over the next four years, as well as deal with a budget cut of $775 million at the same time, hospitals are implementing new models of care that could see elderly patient stays drop from 22 to 10 days.

“With an ageing and growing population, SESLHD felt it was important to develop strategies that would meet the growing demands on our health facilities and services,” he said. “SESLHD has implemented several models of care to improve the treatment of aged care and rehabilitation clients.”

Clout revealed that programs such as the Geriatrician Flying Squad program run at St George, Sutherland and War Memorial hospitals were implemented with the aim of treating elderly patients in their home to avoid hospitalisation.

“The War Memorial Hospital-based flying squad urgently attends to people whose health of function is deteriorating,” he said.

“At St George and Sutherland hospitals, a geriatrician or senior nurse is sent to an aged care facility if a person’s health deteriorates.”

The Acute Rehab Team also visits patients on general wards who are either waiting for a rehab bed or who are not ready to be moved into the rehabilitation ward.

Clout said analysis of the programs “has shown a reported reduction of bed days per patient, allowing more rapid throughput which is enabling more patients to be treated”.

The state opposition’s health spokesman, Dr Andrew McDonald, believes that patients will be sent home before their aged-care facility is able to take them, or their home is properly modified to make them safe.

He also said that cutting down the length of the stay would not generate substantial savings.

“You still have to pay for the outpatient care of the person and you still have to pay for the bed,” he said.

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